• There is a band of water vapor and gases including carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere surrounding our planet earth. This band reflects solar heat back to earth that would otherwise escape into space. If it were not for this reflectivity, called a greenhouse effect, the temperature on earth would be slightly below zero degrees Fahrenheit, and most life as we know it could not exist. But increases in those reflective gases can cause earth to warm to a level we have never experienced.
• The concentration of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere has been measured continuously since 1958 at the Mauna Loa Observatory on the island of Hawaii. Those measurements indicate a 25 percent increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide during the past 60 years.
• Water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico that fueled Hurricane Harvey was the warmest ever recorded in the Gulf. The hurricane dumped 60 inches of rain in the Houston area, the greatest amount for a single storm in U.S. recorded history. Ninety percent of the heat returned to earth by human produced carbon dioxide accumulating in the atmosphere is stored in ocean water.
• An estimated 2 million species of plants and animals inhabit coral reefs. Hundreds of miles of coral on the northern sector of the Great Barrier Reef were recently killed by overheated seawater.
• The 100th Meridian—runs through Dodge City, KS—was identified in 1878 as a natural boundary between the arid western plains and the eastern U.S. where rainfall is sufficient for farming. That boundary has shifted eastward 140 miles.
• Sea level varies because it is affected by rotation of the earth, water temperature, ocean currents, wind, and gravity. Average sea level rose 7 inches during the past century, and the rate of rise doubled during the past 20 years.
• Mosquitos vector 17 diseases including malaria, dengue, West Nile virus, yellow fever, and the Zika virus. The Plasmodium falciparum parasite causes the most severe mosquito vectored malaria. It has a 26-day reproductive cycle where the temperature is 68 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is 77 degrees Fahrenheit, the reproductive cycle is 13 days.
• Arctic temperature in February 2018 was 45 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.
•A beach naturally moves with rising or falling sea level. However, where beach front property is protected from encroaching tides by seawalls, wave action removes the sand from the beach.
Jack Stevenson is retired, served two years in Vietnam as an infantry officer, retired from military service, and worked three years as a U.S. Civil Service employee. He also worked in Egypt as an employee of the former Radio Corporation of America (RCA). Currently, he reads history, follows issues important to Americans, and writes commentary for community newspapers.